Deposed Religious Affairs Minister Hsan Hsint appeared in a Naypyidaw court on Thursday to face a hearing for his forthcoming trial following charges for misappropriation of state funds.
As he left the courthouse, the controversial minister was mobbed by crowds. He called to reporters to maintain his innocence, and said the alleged case of embezzlement had been brought up before and that he had been cleared.
“I see this as extremely unjust,” he called out. “I believe the Śāsana [Buddhist religion] will protect those who work in the interest of the Śāsana.”
Hsan Hsin’s remarks would appear to relate to widely accepted rumours that he had been sacked as a result of his handling of the Mahasantisukha Monastery debacle last month when officials from the Religious Affairs Department and riot police raided the monastery and apprehended resident monks and their supporters.
The monks were escorted to the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee – the highest order of the Buddhist monkhood in the land – and were disrobed. The monastery is at the centre of a land ownership dispute.
“I would like to request the Sangha Maha Nayaka leaders and the Buddhist community to understand that I did the right thing, and to stand by me and protect me,” he called out to supporters. “I call upon the deities of righteousness and divine guards of the Śāsana to protect me!
“I swear an oath that to this day, I have never misappropriated a penny from state funds.”
Hsan Hsint was elected as a representative of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party in the Irrawaddy Division Parliament in the 2010 elections, and became parliamentary speaker before being offered the position as head of the Religious Affairs Ministry by the Union Government.
Prior to the elections in 2010, he served in the army as a major-general and was posted as the deputy-commander of the Rangoon Regional Military Command.
After the court hearing on 3 July, Hsan Hsint was taken back into custody at Yamethin Prison where he will be remanded pending a further hearing in two weeks.